When John Cho told Australia’s Herald Sun that his character, Hikaru Sulu, would be coming out as gay in the new Star Trek Beyond, you can imagine the internet got pretty excited. Star Trek has always been known for being fairly progressive (William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols shared television’s first interracial kiss in the Original Series in 1968). It was only a matter of time before they included a gay character (we’re actually a little surprised it took this long).
The thing making me happy today is imagining the moment George Takei first heard that Sulu is openly gay in the new movie.
— Caroline Siede (@CarolineSiede) July 7, 2016
Making new Sulu (SulNu?) gay is Star Trek making up for a long running sin of omission and paying tribute to American superhero George Takei
— Andy Khouri (@andykhouri) July 7, 2016
“The decision by writer Simon Pegg to make Sulu gay was a nod to George Takei”
CONFIRMED: star trek is a HUGE!! HAPPY!! INCLUSIVE! FAMILY!!
— ASYA (@communistbabe) July 7, 2016
In the plot twist of the year, one person in particular wasn’t very happy about the decision. George Takei, the original Hikaru Sulu actor, was less than thrilled by the choice that was meant to honor him. This comes as a huge surprise to pretty much everyone seeing as he himself came out as gay in 2005 and has been a huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights ever since. Takei asserts that his displeasure is not in the inclusion of a gay character (he’s all for that), he just feels that making Sulu gay is disrespectful to Gene Roddenberry’s (Star Trek universe creator) vision of the character.
Star Trek Beyond co-writer and actor, Simon Pegg defended the choice and explained the reasoning behind it. The writers decided that rather than create a token gay character to add to the cast, it would be more organic to casually present a known character as homosexual. That way, the character wouldn’t become someone who is defined exclusively by their sexuality.
“I love that the debate has never been about if there should be an LGBT character in Trek, just who that character should be” SP ❤️🖖🏻
— Pegg News (@simonpegg) July 9, 2016
Zachary Quinto told Pedestrian TV that he ‘was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed’ and hoped he would come around after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response especially from young people. He also mentioned that since the new Star Trek films take place in an alternate universe/timeline, the characters are already not the same as those created by Roddenberry.
We can hear the fan-fiction authors typing furiously from here.
You can see Star Trek Beyond in theatres July 22.